Saturday, March 19, 2016

Long Island Landlord, Managing Agent To Cough Up $230K, Agree To Other Non-Monetary Concessions To Settle Fair Housing Groups' Allegations Of Discrimination Against Blacks; Results Of Probe Using Undercover 'Testers' Key To Filing Suit

In New York City, the Fair Housing Justice Center recently announced:
  • On Thursday, February 25, 2016, Federal Judge Naomi R. Buchwald approved the settlement of a rental discrimination case filed by the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), ERASE Racism, and seven African American testers in April 2015. The lawsuit alleged that the Manhattan-based Empire Management America Corp., Square Realty Group LLC. and a resident manager at the Mayfair Gardens Apartments in Commack in the Town of Smithtown were discriminating against African American renters.

    This case resulted from a six-month testing investigation conducted by the FHJC in 2014. Teams of African American and white testers, posing as comparably qualified prospective renters, inquired about apartments at the 107-unit suburban apartment complex located in the predominantly white Town of Smithtown in Suffolk County.

    The complaint alleged that African American testers, unlike their white counterparts, were lied to about available apartments or when apartments would be available, shown fewer apartments, informed about fictional waiting lists, quoted higher rents, and/or were not provided with rental applications. The investigation was jointly funded and sponsored by the FHJC and ERASE Racism, a non-profit organization dedicated to exposing and eliminating racial disparities on Long Island.

    The defendants agreed to comply with fair housing laws, adopt a non-discrimination policy and distribute it to employees and agents, display the HUD equal housing opportunity poster, publicly advertise available apartments, provide fair housing training to its employees, maintain rental records, and permit ERASE Racism to inspect records for a period of four years.

    Finally, the defendants agreed to pay $230,000 to the plaintiffs in damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees. The plaintiffs were represented by Diane L. Houk and Theodor O. Oxholm with the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP.
Source: Race Discrimination Lawsuit Involving Suffolk County Apartment Complex Resolved (Landlord to Pay $230,000 and Take Steps to Comply with Fair Housing Laws).

For the lawsuit, see Erase Racism, Inc. et al v. Empire Management America, et al.

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